English and Film Studies

ENGL 308 B1: Aboriginal/Indigenous Literature: Intellectual Traditions

C. Bracken

This course was inspired by an interview that Sherman Alexie gave to the New York Times in 2013.  Asked if he would recommend any new books by Native American authors, Alexie says that what catches his interest today is Indigenous genre fiction: “sci-fi, horror, crime and experimental fiction.”  Alexie’s remark explains something Eden Robinson says in the notes to her novel Blood Sports: “I prefer the older, bloodier versions of fairy tales.”  Apparently, horror is a trend in contemporary Indigenous fiction.  One reason might be that it offers an escape from ethnographic entrapment.  Leslie Silko suggests another reason: horror is a protest against apathy: the failure to feel.  Ned Blackhawk points out that “the narrative of American History” has failed to gauge “the violence that remade much of the continent before U.S. expansion.”  Indigenous horror might be a literary response to a repressed history of violence.

 

TEXTS:

Sherman Alexie, Indian Killer (Grove)

Jeff Barnaby, dir. Rhymes for Young Ghouls (Prospector Films 2013)

Louise Erdrich, The Round House (Harper Macmillan)

Stephen Graham Jones, Mongrels (HarperCollins)

Eden Robinson, Traplines and Blood Sports (McClelland & Stewart)

Gerald Vizenor, Bearheart (Minnesota)

(Stephen King, Danse Macabre, for background)